With amenities ranging from decentralized nursing stations to modern boom technology, BWH’s new Thoracic Intensive Care Unit sets the stage for nurses to provide a highly specialized level of care to thoracic surgery patients. Before opening its doors in early April, staff training laid the groundwork for 11C’s high level of patient care delivery.
The new ICU on 11C was designed with nurses’ needs in mind, according to nurse manager Mae Hansen, RN. Hansen and a team from BWH visited ICUs across the nation to prepare for construction of 11C. “After visiting ICUs in Oklahoma, Maine, Texas and Indiana, we knew the unit’s design was key to its success,” said Hansen.
The decentralized nursing stations located immediately outside each patient room efficiently combine work and patient monitoring areas for nurses. In addition, boom technology anchored from the ceiling ensures that all electrical devices and medical gases are completely mobile and off of the floor, freeing up space for clinicians to tend to the patient more effectively. Each patient room is highly efficient, using every corner of the room for something specific.
Said Chuck Labins, project manager, “We were successful at making a limited amount of space extremely efficient and flexible.”
Before patients began reaping the benefits of the state-of-the-art Thoracic Intensive Care Unit, nurses slated to work on the unit had to be properly trained and oriented to prepare for their new roles. Nurses with ICU experience at BWH or another hospital were and are required to complete on-the-floor orientation and training; whereas nurses with medical/surgical nursing experience at BWH or elsewhere, but no ICU experience, were required to complete BWH’s 12-week Critical Care Intern Program.
The program offers hands-on ICU experience from veteran preceptor nurses on 7C, 9 C and D and 8 C and D and includes a classroom component. BWH modeled its class after the Boston-area hospital’s ICU Consortium. The class was developed and is led by Cathy Saniuk, RN. Saniuk provides nurses with correct terminology, processes, medications and other protocols needed to perform critical care nursing.
“Training and orientation proves to be paramount as half of the current nursing staff on 11C are new to BWH, and many are new to intensive care nursing,” said Hansen.
One graduate of the Critical Care Intern Program is Chip Harris, RN, who made the switch to 11C from the Thoracic Intermediate Care Unit in April.
“I gained valuable practical knowledge from spending time on 9D and 7C, prior to the thoracic ICU’s opening,” said Harris.
“Making the transition onto 11C was a great career move. Learning this specialized delivery of care is definitely challenging and I’m gaining a tremendous amount of knowledge,” he said. Harris admits that his thoracic experience has helped him with the transition.
Harris felt that the classes led by Cathy Saniuk were particularly helpful. “The information shared with us during the classes was essential to be prepared to effectively care for patients admitted to 11C,” he said.
“I love it here,” said Patricia Ryan, also a staff nurse on 11C. Unlike Harris, Ryan was new to BWH when she accepted a position on 11C. Ryan had extensive ICU experience at a community hospital, so she was required to complete an 8-week orientation process rather than the Intern Program. “Because no two hospitals are completely alike, my orientation helped me identify with the Brigham way of doing things,” said Ryan. “It was also helpful to learn from well-practiced ICU nurses at BWH.”
Ryan explained that becoming part of a new unit wasn’t completely intimidating knowing that BWH nurses who joined the unit would have the same learning curve as her. “A new unit is an ideal entry point for someone outside of BWH. Because the unit was new to all of us, I had more of a sense that we were all in it together.”
“I’m proud of the team effort that went into opening 11C,” said Marie Krupar, RN, assistant nurse manager. “Because 11C is geared to the thoracic surgery patient population, we are able to develop a real expertise in this area,” she added.
The new unit is currently staffed for six ICU beds. According to Kruper BWH’s Thoracic ICU is scheduled to be operating at full capacity once more nurses arrive on staff.